Seven questions with Lisa Maltby
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Lisa is mostly known as a designer and illustrator. Her work includes illustrated maps and guides for heritage sites, book cover designs and illustrations for the food industry, such as for menus, packaging and editorial. She also works on a lot of branding projects and these usually involve more research and development – looking at which visual solutions connect audiences in better ways. Other than that she also speaks, write, and mentors. She is passionate about sharing honestly and encouraging others.
1. What’s a book you’ve read – recently or otherwise – that has significantly affected how you see the world?
I don’t think there’s one book that’s been a game-changer for me, but lots have inspired me at particular moments. I’m currently reading books on design psychology and I’ve just finished one called ‘The Choice Factory’ by Richard Shotton. This is very much about advertising strategies, but I find it fascinating how design can profoundly influence behaviour. I obviously want to influence my clients’ customers to buy into their companies or products, but I always want to make sure I am designing for good. I think there’s a lot of potential to influence the world in really positive ways. I’m also reading ‘Invisible Women’ by Caroline Creado Perez which looks at data bias in a world designed for men. It’s a real eye-opener and I feel like it should be compulsory reading. It’s given me courage to keep speaking out when I see it happening.
2. What’s the biggest challenge or obstacle you’ve had to overcome in getting to where you are today?
I’ve always been a people-pleaser and that’s often been a real obstacle – trying to fit in with what is acceptable to others. It’s taken a long time to realise that I don’t have to fit certain roles or stereotypes to be effective, in fact the opposite. I think the most inspirational people I know bring something different into situations, but they are also people who might bring a bit of controversy or challenge. So, I’ve realised you will never please everyone and it’s better to be your authentic self, even if it means offending others with your choices. If you really believe in something I think that’s more important that playing it safe. I don’t want a boring life.
3. What aspect of your job is the most interesting?
I love how varied my job is – one day I could be creating a mural, another day I could be speaking at an event and another day I could be designing at my desk. I love how fluid it is and that I always get to connect with new people, either through work opportunities or through building a community of people who have similar professions. When you work for yourself, you’re really open. Sometimes you have no idea what you’ll be doing next month and that also feels scary. But it also means there’s potential for really exciting things too.
4. What's a goal or dream you have that you haven't pursued yet?
I’ve always wanted to illustrate the Google letters on the homepage! Other than that I’d also really love to make more books. I think whenever you say you want to write and illustrate things people always assume they’re for children, but I don’t want to write exclusively for children... or adults for that matter! I think there are stories to be told for both. I’d like to write about more profound, funny and sad things – I want to create beautifully illustrated books about humanity, really. Books that help to unlock things that people often feel uncomfortable about talking about.
5. What cause or issue are you personally passionate about at the moment?
I’m passionate about equality and mental health, and I think those two things are intrinsically linked. When people have always been told that they don’t measure up, or that they can’t have the same chances, then those things can become big mental health challenges. I think there are lots of people who recognise issues of inequality and try to give opportunities where there have been few, but it’s a whole different thing to understand why those opportunities might not be getting filled. It’s easy to look at a quick fix, but it’s not easy to help people to overcome years of being told they ‘can’t.’ It’s not about one people ‘group’ over another, it’s about how this affects society as whole. It’s often subtle, but I think it’s important to call things out when we see them and sometimes those things come from really well intentioned people – it’s in all of us. We need to find ways of challenging these issues in ourselves and others without it being something personal.
6. What do you do when you’re in need of joy, peace, calm, or focus?
I go out into nature. I am my happiest when I’ve climbed a mountain – there’s something incredible about standing on top of earth and seeing for miles around. Unfortunately I don’t live too near to mountains but Sheffield is a great place for hills, trees and green spaces – I love the Peak District. I also love music and that can sometimes help to keep me focused if I have a lot on my mind.
7. What's something that costs £20 ($25) or less that you think everyone should get?